Electricals retailer Comet to axe 450 jobs

STRUGGLING electricals chain Comet is poised to cut 450 jobs in a drive for “significant savings” its new owners says are needed to safeguard its future.

Comet, which was last week sold for a token �2 to private equity firm OpCapita, plans to scale back its in-house repairs operation, which provides a UK-wide service on behalf of manufacturers.

The plan is subject to consultation but is expected to result in job losses for engineers and around one third of the 414-strong workforce at a centre handling calls and administration at Clevedon near Bristol.

The company said the move would allow it to focus resources “more single-mindedly” on store operations. It is part of a wider strategic review of the business, which has 248 stores and about 10,000 staff in the UK.

Comet chief executive Bob Darke added: “The proposal to reduce our staff numbers has been a very tough decision to make but significant savings are required to secure the long-term viability of our business.”

Amid tough trading conditions, it recently emerged that Comet revenues fell 14.5% on a like-for-like basis between November 1 and January 8, while it posted losses of �22million for six months trading last year.

Veteran retailer and former boss at Dixons Retail John Clare, who has been appointed chairman of Comet, recently met with suppliers to secure their support after trade credit insurers placed Comet under review.

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Retail turnaround specialist OpCapita has taken on the business but former owner Kesa Electricals agreed to pump �50million into the business and retain its pension scheme liabilities.